VanderCook Associate Board



Cavalone-Jurek, PhyllisPhyllis is the principal of St. Therese Chinese Catholic School, a Catholic elementary school in the Archdiocese of Chicago, focused on Chinese language, culture and STEM initiatives. A former high school and college mathematics instructor, she has also been involved in the review of four middle school mathematical textbooks, and she is a frequent presenter and project manager for grants in the area of mathematics, science and technology instruction.  Phyllis is currently involved in initiatives which support Just and Fair Assessment Practices, Singapore Mathematics Principles, International Educator Exchanges and is a licensed facilitator for educators regarding Common Core Mathematics.


Chan, AmyAmy is the Director of the Community Service Center and Associate Dean of Students at the University of Chicago.  She has dedicated her career to student and community development through educational organizations in Washington DC, Boston, San Francisco, and Chicago.  Prior to her current work at UChicago, she served as the Director of Youth Programs at the Coro Center for Civic Leadership in San Francisco, a national nonprofit founded in 1942 that provides intensive leadership training for students and professionals interested in public affairs.  Under her leadership, Coro Youth Programs received the 2010 Organization Award from the San Francisco Human Rights Commission.  A Chicago native, Amy received her B.A. from Carleton College and her M.Ed. from Harvard University.


Fitzpatrick, StephanieStephanie is a second-generation owner and operator of Freddie’s Pizza in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood. Stephanie studied business management at UIC and culinary arts at the Art Institute of Chicago. She applied her diligent business ethic and expertise in the kitchen to bring her family’s shop into the 21st century. Stephanie attended St. Ignatius College Prep and St. Jerome School where she has recently become an active member of the school board. Stephanie has lived in Bridgeport her entire life and recently purchased a home in there with her husband Patrick.


Gallagher, MikeMike is a three-dimensional: guitarist, keyboardist, and vocalist. A versatile artist educated by everything from books to the Blues. To accompany the compilations of sound at the core of his alternative rock style, audiences can hear remnants of country, R&B, and soul.  Mike has performed with many of the industry’s most notable performers: Yolanda Adams, Bebe Winans (gospel), Roy Ayers (jazz), George Clinton (funk), Kindred and the Family Soul (R&B), Carole King (folk), M.C. Lyte, Rhymefest (hip-hop) Rick Nielsen {Cheap Trick}, Jim Peterik {Survivor} (rock). While collaborating with this eclectic ensemble of artists, Mike has acquired great depth in his playing style as well as his writing. His versatile composing style has also afforded him the opportunity to create music for television shows such as “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “Dr. Oz,” and MTV’s “Sixteen and Pregnant.”  Carrying the legacy of his rocker dad, musical mentors, and all the gifted artists who have collaborated with him in his music, Mike continues to create, perform and develop his own musical footprint. Follow Mike Gallagher on Facebook/MusicMikeG and Twitter - @MusicMikeG


Gierut, MatthewMatt is Chief Operating Officer at Codal - an established global consulting firm focusing on business intelligence, design, development and compliance testing. He is heavily involved in driving long-term sales as well as developing and implementing innovative marketing efforts for Codal and its clients. As COO, Matt is tasked with making high-value decisions that affect Codal in a manner that promotes growth for the company and for its clients.

Matt is also very active in a program he helped co-found called Kickstart Chicago. This program helps provide the knowledge and education many small businesses need; offering expertise and guidance to businesses that lack necessary technology or are operating with outdated systems and provide them with the necessary financial and technological support.  Through Kickstart Chicago, Matt hopes to help build the city’s reputation as a supportive and lucrative environment for business, no matter how small.  Matt also co-founded KBMG Capital, which helps entrepreneurs establish a more technical presence through market leading technology. In his free time, Matt loves to play golf, engage in sports, and indulge in the best that Chicago has to offer.


Grill, MikeMichael is a commercial litigation attorney with Holland & Knight, LLP. His practice centers on disputes among owners of closely held companies, actions involving financial and insurance products, breach-of-contract actions, and business torts.  He dedicates significant time to pro bono legal services.  Prior to his legal career, Mr. Grill worked at the Chicago blues label Alligator Records. He also spent several years on the Associate Board of the Merit School of Music.


Humphries, KhariKhari serves as Director of Community Life for the Community Builders, Inc. at Oakwood Shores, located in the Bronzeville community. At the Community Builders, he leads the planning and execution of programs that assist more than 2,000 residents of mixed-income housing in the areas of financial stability, asset development, youth development, education, workforce development, and community engagement.  Khari earned a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts in Sociology from St. Xavier University.  



Madana, Sophia

Sophia is a social media strategist based in Chicago, IL. She is passionate about digital media in all its many forms. Sophia has extensive experience in creating cutting edge social media campaigns for higher education institutions (such as VanderCook College of Music), as well as start-up business in the beauty and personal finance industries. 

Sophia's love and appreciation for VanderCook College's mission stems from her life-changing music education experience starting from elementary school through college which included learning piano, clarinet and participating in choir. She understands how the bond between a music teacher and a music student can have a lasting impact, and how important it is to nurture our world's future music educators.


McCracken, JenniferJennifer’s marketing industry expertise includes banking, finance, real estate and asset management.  Jennifer is a licensed real estate broker, and is owner and CEO of Superior Improvements LLC, where she manages subcontractors for various remodeling projects, including rehab and rental of personally owned properties.  An animal lover, Jennifer lives in Orland Park with her two dogs, and has volunteered for Peoples Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) for several years.  


Minton, Jean-MarieJean-Marie has served as a Chicago Real Estate Broker since 2002 after working briefly as an assistant to residential and commercial real estate appraisers.  

A Massachusetts’s native she is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, with a degree in German. She continued her studies to become an opera singer at Boston's New England Conservatory and subsequently lived and worked in New York City, London and Florence.  Moving to Chicago in 1985, she continued her career singing with Chicago Lyric Opera, The Opera Factory, Chicago Opera Theater, the Grant Park Chorus and William Ferris Chorale until retiring officially in 2001. 

She is proud to call Chicago "home", where she and her husband raised two beautiful daughters.  For the record, she hasn't entirely stopped singing...  Look for her video recording of The National Anthem for the Washington Redskins in FedEx Field. 


Owens, SamanthaBio forthcoming




Perez, YolandaYolanda is an Account Representative at GE Capital Rail Services in Chicago.  At GE she serves on the community service board for the Hispanic Forum Affinity Network. She is also a member of the Women's and Veteran's Network and an active participant with the Junior Achievement of Chicago organization.  Born and raised on the south side of Chicago and a White Sox fan, she is a mom to two boys who are in college.



Pinello, DarciDarci is the General Manager at Tufano’s Vernon Park Tap restaurant.  She is the fourth generation family member working along side her father, Joe.  Darci graduated from DePaul University with a degree in Communication Studies.  She also volunteers on Big Shoulder’s Auxiliary Board.



Poulakis, TimTim is a sales specialist for KI Chicago where he has been recognized for Annual sales achievements, Rookie of Year, Highest Growth Year over Year.  He is commonly acknowledged for his customer service skills and paying close attention to his customers’ requests. He focuses most of his time in the education and medium/large business marketplace. Tim is a sous chef by trade and his interests include, boxing, cooking, and traveling.


Rosenthal, Andrew

Andy is both a realtor for Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, and an accountant for McNabb, LLC. With experience working in the financial industry, and at a Fortune 500 company, Andy's greatest passion is helping start-up companies understand and develop their accounting systems. As a realtor, Andy most enjoys working with people to accomplish their real estate goals. Andy attended the University of Montana, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Accounting, and became an avid fly-fisherman.


Thomas, DyannaDyanna is a Teen REACH Coordinator at Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago. She has been with the organization for over five years and working with children for over ten.  She is dedicated to the advancement of Chicago's youth. She currently is a part of the strategic planning task force for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago where she provides all the input she can to ensure the youth have all that they deserve.  She also serves her community and church as often as she can.


Undine, TomTom graduated from Loyola University of Chicago and is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice. He is experienced in working with youth, adults, and families. He has worked in an inpatient psychiatric hospital setting, as a school social worker, and in an outpatient clinic setting. He currently runs groups and sees individuals and families at his offices located in the Fine Arts Building in Chicago. He gives talks, consultation, and workshops at conferences, schools, and organizations in the Chicagoland area and elsewhere.


Villanueva, MelanieMelanie has over nine years of experience in auditing, accounting and consulting.  Currently, she is an Internal Audit Consultant at R&M Consulting, a boutique consulting firm in Chicago that specializes in internal audit and tax.  Prior to R&M, she was an auditor at Underwriters Laboratories and National Futures Association where she enjoyed traveling to numerous international and domestic locations.  Melanie also spent three years at VanderCook as the Accountant in the Business Office.  She graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2004 with a degree in Accountancy and obtained her CPA in 2008.  In her spare time, Melanie enjoys cheering on the Bulls and the Illini, and Yelping about all the gems she discovers in Chicago and on the road.


Wittig, JonathanJonathan was born and raised in San Antonio, TX. He moved to Chicago in 2002 to attend Loyola University Chicago where he earned a BBA in Marketing. Following graduation, he volunteered for a year in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood teaching health and nutrition in community schools. He then volunteered in the Philippines with an NGO to address poverty alleviation. In 2008, he continued work with the Filipino NGO traveling and speaking at colleges and universities across the U.S. to raise awareness. In 2010, he returned to Chicago and earned a master’s degree in Public Administration from DePaul University. He is now a Director at Catholic Charities in Chicago, working with food sustenance and nutrition education.   Jonathan is married to Lisa, they live in Uptown and have a daughter.


Zhang, JenniferJennifer is a well-known multi-instrumentalist, singer, model, actress and host who has performed on stages worldwide. Recently crowned as 2015 Miss Friendship Ambassador of Chicago, she is granted the honor of representing Chicago in the 2015 Miss Chinese International Pageant in Hong Kong.

Jennifer serves as Music Director of the Xilin Art Academy, Music Advisor for the Meifeng Ensemble at Valparaiso University, and a member of the popular modern Chinese music duo Jennifer & Isabelle. She has graced the stages of many notable venues in Chicago, including the Chicago Cultural Center, the Navy Pier, and the Daley Plaza, and has traveled for performances around the world in major cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong. Invited as a judge for the Voice of Chicago Singing Contest, as well as many voice competitions at major universities in Chicago, she has been featured in numerous publications and has appeared on television in both the U.S. and China.

Jennifer graduated from Northwestern University, and is the proud owner of a fine arts company and serves as PR chair for an upcoming social media app company. Involved in numerous social and charitable causes, she founded the Northwestern University Club of China and serves as Director of the Asian and Asian American Alumni Association (NU-A5) for her alma mater. She is also a member of the Overseas China Education Foundation (OCEF). She has often volunteered, performed and fundraised for many needy children, senior citizens and under-privileged families.


VanderCook College of Music

3140 South Federal Street
Chicago, IL 60616-3731
(312) 225-6288

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